During the Miners Strike in 1984-1985 a group of women from the Dulais Valley who supported striking miners established a women’s group to discuss the impact the social and political experiences had had on their lives. The group subsequently pledged to establish a centre that would provide education and training opportunities for women supporting free childcare facilities, free transport and a flexible part time learning environment. DOVE achieved these within a partnership of other education and training providers such as the Department of Adult and Continuing Education (DACE) at the University of Swansea, Neath College and the Workers Education Association (WEA) and the Open University.
In 1985 DOVE applied for a small grant to use a local community hall and by 1986 DOVE successfully received an Urban Aid Grant from the Welsh Office supported by Neath Borough Council to establish a three year education and training project. Now based in its current location in Banwen, at the former National Coal Board (NCB) Executive Offices and given to Onllwyn Community Council for the purpose of cultural and educational opportunities, DOVE began its provision to meet the needs of the community and its wider catchment area.
The part time and flexible delivery of accredited courses included Information Technology, Study Skills, Access to Higher Education Humanities, Local History and Video Production for Women. Alongside this provision were courses in Machine Knitting, Spinning and Weaving and Art courses. In 1993 DACE established a Part Time BA degree course in Humanities. With the support of DOVE’s own links with national and international women’s groups a transnational exchange programme was developed with similar organisations in mining regions in Italy, Germany and Holland.
The structure of the building has changed overtime allowing DOVE to provide improved facilities for learners, the nursery and transport. The above courses were developed within the true spirit of partnership supported by DACE, the WEA, City in Guilds, Open University and Neath College. Financial support came from the European Social Fund (ESF), European Research and Development Fund (ERDF) and other funding bodies.
DOVE Workshop has a reputation for providing a safe, welcoming and caring service, we recognise that every individual we work with has different needs and abilities and we do not tolerate unfair practice or discrimination.